Melanie Parker

Melanie Parker
Executive Director
melanie@northwestconnections.org

Melanie is co-founder of Northwest Connections and serves as its Executive Director.  She is known for her ability to bring diverse people together to accomplish large scale projects.  Melanie was the primary catalyst behind the Montana Legacy Project, an effort to permanently protect 310,000 acres of corporate timber land.  She helped initiate and manage the Southwestern Crown Collaborative, an effort to put $40 million dollars in job-creating restoration on public lands.  She has designed and still currently teaches a number of Northwest Connections field based ecology courses.

Melanie graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. She attained a Master's of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana in 1997.  Melanie is on the steering committee for the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, and serves on the Forest Stewardship Council US Board of Directors.

Melanie was born in Arizona and raised between there and Northern California. She has always been an avid outdoors person. She has two children in whom she works to instill a strong work ethic and a love for land, animals and people.


Adam Lieberg

Adam Lieberg
Conservation Program Coordinator
adam@northwestconnections.org

Adam is Northwest Connections' Conservation Program Coordinator.  He is an accomplished naturalist with superb outdoor skills.  Adam's primary field work relates to the monitoring of rare carnivores such as lynx, fisher and wolverine.  He is also active with grizzly bear monitoring and co-leads Swan Valley Bear Resources, a collaborative group that works to reducing bear-human conflicts.

Adam has an Environmental Studies degree from the University of Montana and has worked on a number of research projects in the region.  He is a lead instructor at Northwest Connection, and is known for his excellent ability to connect with a wide diversity of people.

Adam lives in the Swan Valley and can often be found spending his free time tracking animals, exploring new country, or pushing himself to learn more about the natural world.


Andrea Stephens

Andrea Stephens
Education Program Coordinator
andrea@northwestconnections.org

Andrea Stephens is Northwest Connections' Education Program Director.   She is an instructor for the Wildlife in the West Field Program and the Watershed Dynamics course of the Landscape and Livelihood Field Semester.  Andrea also leads Northwest Connections aquatic field work.  Currently she serves as co-chair of the Swan Lands Native Fish Committee where she is championing the conservation of west slope cutthroat trout populations.

Andrea earned a Master's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a Bachelor's degree in Natural Science and Geology from the University of Puget Sound. She has worked for Northwest Connections for fifteen years.  Andrea is one of those rare instructors who can translate complex scientific concepts to all audiences.   She is an expert naturalist and an outstanding teacher.

Andrea and her husband have two daughters.  When she is not raising a family or leading Northwest Connections programs, she teaches outdoor skills courses for the Aerie Backcountry Medicine.


Tom Parker

Tom Parker
Conservation Specialist
tparker@blackfoot.net

Tom Parker is co-founder of Northwest Connections and currently serves as its Conservation Specialist advising field research projects. Tom has been an outfitter and guide based in the Swan Valley and surrounding wilderness areas for over 30 years. His intimate knowledge of the landscape and its ecology of the Crown of the Continent has garnered a wide array of respect from citizens, scientists and activists in the region, the state and the country. Whether he is guiding hunters, teaching students or leading natural history outings, Tom's respect and appreciation for natural systems is apparent and contagious.


Rebekah Rafferty

Rebekah Rafferty
Education Program Coordinator
rebekah@northwestconnections.org

Rebekah is Northwest Connections' Education Program Associate.  She conducts outreach to students and professors from around the country to promote the field study opportunities at Northwest Connections.

Rebekah  is currently completing her Master's degree in Social Science, with an emphasis in Environment & Community, from Humboldt State University. Her focus is on wolves and the ability of ranchers to mitigage livestock depredation. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz.  She is a primary instructor for Wildlife in the West.

Rebekah likes to write, hike, track critters through the forest, and stay busy learning as much of Montana's natural history as she possibly can.


Laura Arvidson

Laura Arvidson
Conservation Program Associate
laura@northwestconnections.org

Laura Arvidson is Northwest Connections' Conservation Program Associate.  Laura manages NwC's Beck Creek Gardens, runs NwC's internship program, is the Risk Management Coordinator, and works as a field technician and an assistant instructor. She is passionate about growing food, natural history, hunting and playing outside. Laura is a 5th generation Montanan, and earned a degree in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana.


Susan Novosel
Marketing Coordinator
susan@northwestconnections.org

Susan Novosel is Northwest Connections' Marketing Coordinator.  Susan worked for decades in the fast paced world of advertising back east. Since moving to the Swan Valley over ten years ago she has lent her skills to Northwest Connections managing the website and overseeing all aspects of communications.

Susan Novosel

Grace Burgess
Office Manager
grace@northwestconnections.org

Grace Burgess is Northwest Connections' Office Manager.  She worked in several capacities with military and government agencies in Virgina before moving to the Swan Valley in 2005. Grace provides financial and clerical support services to all of Northwest Connections programs.  Grace and her husband love the outdoors and enjoy exploring Montana by horseback.

Grace Burgess

Mike Stevenson
Field Technician

Mike Stevenson, a native Montanan and long time woodsman of the Swan Valley and Bob Marshall Wilderness, also has a firm grasp of the site specific ecology of several of our threatened and endangered species. Mike works as a master woodworker and building contractor, and contributes to Northwest Connections' monitoring and education programs part time. Mike enjoys journeying across the mountains to the Blackfoot Indian Reservation where both he spends time with family and old friends.

Mike Stevenson

Sara Halm
Education Program Associate
Rare Carnivore Monitoring Field Technician

As the Education Program Associate, Sara works closely with lead instructors both in the field and behind the scenes. She also works as a field technician on Northwest Connections' Rare Carnivore and Native Fish monitoring programs. She is passionate about connecting people to their environment and cultivating enthusiasm for nature.

Sara earned a degree in Environmental Science, with a focus in conservation and wildlife biology, at the University of Vermont. Sara first came to Montana as a Wildlife in the West student in 2011, and has been enamored with the Southwest Crown and the Swan Valley ever since.


Emily Krulc
Resident Education Assistant for Wildlife in the West

Emily Krulc is the 2015 Resident Education Assistant for Wildlife in the West.  She has a degree in Environmental Studies from the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in Minnesota, though she dabbled in Biology as well.  She grew up paddling the lakes, exploring the forests and skiing the trails of Northeastern Minnesota, but loves exploring new and unfamiliar places.  Emily enjoys reading, journaling and finding something to laugh about each day.


Megan Schneider
Beck Creek Gardens Intern

Megan Schneider will be managing the Beck Creek Gardens for the 2015 season. She received a BS in Global Resource Systems from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. Megan is passionate about food system sustainability and is interested in the intersection of people, education, and growing food. Megan was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and hailing from the Pacific Northwest, she is excited to spend time learning and growing in Montana!


Louie Shahan
Rare Carnivore Monitoring Field Technician

Louie will be participating on the Rare Carnivore Project for the month of January, then heading back to Missoula to finish a degree in Resource Conservation and a minor in Ecological Restoration at the University of Montana. He is a 2013 Landscape and Livelihood alumnus.

 


Nathan Stone
Rare Carnivore Monitoring Field Technician

Nathan graduated in 2012 with a degree in biology from Whitman College. Nathan was born and raised in the Swan Valley.


Guest Instructors

A diversity of guest speakers round out the instructional staff for our field programs. Swan Valley community members, local and regional biologists, agency personnel, business owners and environmentalists serve as speakers, hosts and guides. All of our speakers contribute to our field programs through their deep knowledge of the region's ecology, economy and community. See a sampling of some of the speakers students may meet →



IMAGE CREDIT: Top - Steven Gnam